I haven’t blogged in a while because with my recovery in the driver’s seat, I’ve been racing the days away. Well, more precisely, God is in the driver’s seat…and I like it that way. I have barely had a flicker of depression, anxiety or PTSD symptoms ever since I let Him take the wheel. The demons in my past use to drive me off the road and literally wanted to kill me, but they are no match for the spirituality I have gained through my 12 step programs, rehab and the fellowships I belong to. Now before you close this page because you are worried I am about to go on a religion rant…don’t worry, I’m not. Surrendering to a higher power of my understanding has nothing to do with religion at all. But it has everything to do with faith and love and a way to live my life without regret, resentment, anger and guilt…not a bad deal if you ask me! Living and loving life, one busy day at a time, involves faith as the required ingredient.
I have been reading a lot of books in my down-time. After either a meeting, the Buddhist Centre, a book study group, or meeting my sponsor, I have devoured some delicious books such as, A Return to Love: By Marianne Williamson, Living a Course in Miracles: By Jon Mundy and Drop the Rock: By Bill P, Todd W, and Sara S. They have taught me lessons such as, “I’m the only one who can change my mind”, “Guilt is a projection within my own mind; it is also something I can change”, “No matter how justified my attack thoughts may be, I can give them up”, and “In order to be free of guilt, there must be no judgement either of another or myself. If there is no judgement, guilt is gone”.
As you can see, the main topic of the lessons I seem to still focus on is guilt. After working through my resentments and making amends where they needed to be made, guilt still seems to be the tangled chain holding me back from complete peace. Forgiving myself for putting my family and friends through an attempted suicide isn’t an over-night process…But I’m learning that there is no future in the past! I will always carry the lessons of my past experiences in a pocket close to my heart, but they don’t have to drag me down and slow my progress forward. I’m also learning that as I extend forgiveness, I am able to forgive myself. Living a Course in Miracles teaches me that forgiveness has only one form. It does not ask for proof of innocence of any kind. It does not dispute. It does not evaluate the errors to be forgiven. It also teaches that we demonstrate peace of mind by showing others that their transgressions against us do not have an effect. Is this easier said than done when it comes to forgiving myself? Yes! But forgiveness is a two-way street, and not in the way you may be thinking. Whether someone forgives me is completely out of my control. But I can’t forgive others and not forgive myself. Luckily, ALL forgiveness is self-forgiveness, and inner peace is the prized reward.
I have been doing a lot of serious contemplation about when I should return to work. Yes, that’s right I said when. I have decide that I’m not finished being a paramedic. I’m not finished helping people and I’m not finished working along side of my colleagues. I still need to complete the groups and courses I am in now before being completely ready to tie up my black steel-toed boots again…but putting on my uniform doesn’t seem so scary anymore. I have been blessed with the amount of knowledge I have gained over the past 7 months; knowledge I craved for 38 years, and I’m ready to put it into action with my patients and peers.
It’s still one day at a time…don’t worry, I’m not rushing things that still need work. But I think that one day being able to continue to do the job I love so dearly will be the final step towards forgiving myself. I need to help people who live in darkness like I had. What a blessing it would be to shine more light on mental health by being a true example of hope myself as a paramedic again…but a healthy one.
I have forgiven Mark Dobson, the Travelodge murderer, for the illness and pain he caused me. He hasn’t haunted my dreams for more nights than I can count now. And if I can do that, I can definitely learn to forgive myself. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE!